2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Rankings debate for J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer and unsigned free agents, too

We use Slack to communicate internally, and now we're going to use it to communicate with you guys. Every Wednesday through the offseason and into the season, we're going to have Scott White and Heath Cummings discuss (and maybe debate, a little) their rankings. We're talking recently signed and still unsigned free agents this week. Here is the full (lightly edited) transcript of our chat: 

chris.towers: The hot stove has finally heated up! Eric Hosmer,  J.D. Martinez ... Jarrod Dyson ... Carlos Gomez?

heath.cummings: Those are all certainly names of baseball players who have signed deals.

chris.towers: OK, the stove is still pretty lukewarm.

But at least some of the bigger dominoes are starting to fall. We've been doing AL- and NL-only mocks over the past week or so, and it's been tough to figure out where to value players when we don't even know what league they'll be in, let alone which team. That's starting to be less of an issue every day. Thankfully.

scott.white: Mercifully.

chris.towers: For this round of our rankings debates/discussions, I wanted to see where you guys stand on the players who have signed already, as well as those who are still out there.

There may not be much disagreement here, but I thought it would be a good chance to get both of your thoughts on these guys down. So I'll start with a broad question: Which player still remaining unsigned do you think has the best chance to increase value depending on where he signs?

scott.white: For me, it's Mike Moustakas, who I've been begging for the Yankees to sign since last August.

heath.cummings: The dream is not dead yet.

But it's close.

chris.towers: It's on life support after their acquisition of Brandon Drury, right?

scott.white: Yeah, Brandon Drury put a damper on that. Basically, Moustakas is such an extreme fly-ball and pull hitter that the short right-field porch would be perfect for him. Never has a park wanted a player more, really. But the Yankees seem less than convinced.

chris.towers: I just saw the team is putting Gleyber Torres in the competition for second base, not third. That seems to indicate they'll go in with Drury at third on Opening Day?

Here's that report, btw: 

heath.cummings: Yes. Jake Arrieta signing with a good team in a big park would be awesome. But I'm not sure Philadelphia meets either of those requirements.

scott.white: It's his natural position while Torres came up as a middle infielder, so that would make sense. Dual eligibility for Drury, I guess, not that you'd probably play him at third -- or maybe anywhere in a mixed league. Not sure Yankee Stadium is a big upgrade from pre-humidor Chase Field.

heath.cummings: Logan Morrison (or Mark Reynolds) signing with the Rockies would also count.

scott.white: Greg Holland will either be a closer or he won't. And that will be everything for him.

chris.towers: OK, fill in the blank:

I would rank Mike Moustakas ____ at third if he signed with the Yankees.

I would rank Mike Moustakas ____ if he signed with the Royals.

scott.white: Neither of which seems likely, but hey, what does?

chris.towers: It's pretty hard to find a fit for him at this point, to be honest.

heath.cummings: Yankees: 12th. Royals: 16th.

scott.white: I would say ... ninth as a Yankee and 12th as a Royal, but the upside is higher with the former and the downside lower with the latter.

chris.towers: OK, let's do a few more with the other unsigned guys. FIll in the blank:

I want Greg Holland to sign with ____.

heath.cummings: Cubs.

scott.white: Cardinals.

chris.towers: Not fans of Brandon Morrow or Luke Gregerson?

heath.cummings: Would just feel more secure with Holland (and I was looking at the best place for Holland).

scott.white: Gregerson is a no for me. Wasn't good enough to close for the Astros in the long run. Doesn't really have the stuff for the role, and it just seems like one of the more obvious openings for Holland among the contenders.

I like Morrow, if he's healthy.

chris.towers: The Phillies are the most recent team to be linked by name to Jake Arrieta. Scott, you have him 18th in Roto at SP; He's 30th for Heath. Would you move him up or down if he signed with the Phillies?

heath.cummings: Meh.

scott.white: Well, not up. And he's not a big fly-ball pitcher, so I don't know that a big downgrade is in order. I tell you, though: It might put the Phillies on the fringes of the playoff race.

chris.towers: They could sneakily have a pretty good offense this year. Catcher and third base are probably the only spots where they are obviously below average, and both Jorge Alfaro and Maikel Franco have plenty of talent.

heath.cummings: I would love the move for the Phillies, and I like their pieces more than most. Just not sure it's good (or bad) for Arrieta.

chris.towers: It certainly won't be the Cubs' offense, either way.

Rank these four free agents based on how excited you would be to draft them when they eventually sign (assuming they get an everyday role): Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Jonathan Lucroy, Logan Morrison.

scott.white: Lynn, Cobb, Morrison, Lucroy ... hard to find innings eaters among that class of starting pitchers, and Lynn and Cobb would certainly qualify. Morrison might be a decent power hitter, but those are a dime a dozen. Not sure Lucroy has much left.

heath.cummings: Yuck. Lynn, Lucroy, Cobb, LoMo.

chris.towers: Yuck isn't on my draft board.

heath.cummings: I really need to move Lynn down.


scott.white: It's pronounced "Youk," but he's not signing with anybody.

heath.cummings: He needed a whole lotta luck just to be an innings eater last year.

chris.towers: I read that as a "A whole lotta yuck".

scott.white: He's always been the luckiest Lynn in all the land.

heath.cummings: Well, he was for 2 years at least.

chris.towers: The irony here is, Scott you have Lucroy ranked higher than Heath does in Roto.

scott.white: Yeah, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. And you said "excited," so ...

chris.towers: You both still have Lucroy ranked as a starter. Catcher is that bad, because Lucroy was pretty hopeless last season: He ranked in the Ender Inciarte/Yolmer Sanchez range in hard-hit rate. That's... Yuck.

scott.white: I don't know if that makes me like Yolmer Sanchez more or Ender Inciarte less.

heath.cummings: Lance Lynn had the 10th worst SIERA in baseball amongst qualified starters.

Right between Matt Moore and Ricky Nolasco.

chris.towers: Turning to the players who have signed already, who saw their value increase most with their ultimate landing spot?

(I have an answer in mind, I hope you don't overlook him.)

scott.white: Maybin?

heath.cummings: Yep.

chris.towers: That's the one.

He's certainly not the best player, but Maybin signing with the Marlins seems like a boon to his value.

scott.white: He went from being undraftable to a nice late-round steals source, so I guess that's a big leap. Certainly moved up the most spots in my rankings.

heath.cummings: He went from the last round to NL-only to mixed-league draftable.

chris.towers: Do you think they'll let him run the way the Angels did last season?

heath.cummings: Why wouldn't they?

They have nothing to lose.

scott.white: That's what I'm thinking. Regardless, it's the best chance you have at that point in the draft, along with Delino DeShields and Mallex Smith.

chris.towers: Well, he had 33 steals at the age of 30, in 450 PA. He hadn't attempted anything close to that rate since his age-24 season in San Diego.

However, he was also on a 15-homer, 40-steal pace for a full season, and probably won't hit .228 again. There's a ton of upside there for a late-round pick.

Even if he'll almost certainly be a bench player for some contender come August.

heath.cummings: Yeah, none of that is scaring me off taking him at the end of the draft.

scott.white: That's why they need him to run! Run right off our roster and into some contender's welcoming arms in exchange for its 23rd-ranked prospect.

chris.towers: Did any of the recent free agent signings cause you to drop someone in your rankings?

scott.white: Eduardo Nunez moved down a couple spots signing with the Red Sox.

heath.cummings: J.D. Martinez & Nunez caused me to drop HanRam and Moreland a little. Add them to the list of teams with too many guys.

I didn't drop Nunez because I wasn't sure he'd have a full time job all year anyway.

scott.white: He'll fill in at second base until Dustin Pedroia is back from knee surgery, which may be the start of the season. Probably not, but maybe. And I'm sure he'll play a fair amount all over the diamond after that, but there isn't an everyday role for him.

heath.cummings: He's probably better than Pedroia now. They should tell him to take his time.

scott.white: YOU tell him.

chris.towers: There's also a chance Pedroia, at his age, never gets right.

heath.cummings: Also, the Hosmer signing wasn't great news for Jose Pirela and Hunter Renfroe ... maybe.

The Darvish signing sunk SPARP-eligible Mike Montgomery.

chris.towers: The Red Sox ranked 12th, 8th, and 12th in OBP from the first three spots in their lineup last season. Could J.D. Martinez have found a better spot to land? Shouldn't he be in the Giancarlo Stanton/Aaron Judge range among hitters? He's almost 15 spots behind Stanton for you, Scott, and around the same with you and Judge, Heath.

scott.white: I like it for J.D. Martinez, who'll see more time at DH than he ever has. His biggest issue has been staying in the lineup, only once having played even 125 games in a season, and staying off the field should help with that, sort of like it did for Nelson Cruz post-Texas.

I feel more secure with Stanton and feel like he has more upside at Yankee Stadium, but I do like Martinez more than Judge.

heath.cummings: I could see a health boost ... but he's never been in a bad lineup. He's gone from Miggy, Kinsler & VMart to Goldschmidt & Pollock, to this.

Also, I have Martinez as a late second rounder. I also like him.

chris.towers: It's not a question of whether you like him. I'm asking why you like him less than Judge, relatively.

Stanton and Judge both have plenty of upside but... Martinez was better than both last season.

On a per-game basis, being the obvious caveat. But Stanton's got just as much injury risk as Martinez, and has a worse history of consistency as a hitter.

heath.cummings: *on a per game basis.

chris.towers: And Judge... Well, the floor might be a good Chris Carter season.

scott.white: Chris never misses an opportunity to throw some shade Aaron Judge's way.

Also, he's not wrong.

chris.towers: For all the talk of Martinez having an outlier season, Stanton's 2017 was just as much an outlier for his career, and Martinez hasn't had a season as bad as Stanton's 2016 since his Come to Flyball Jesus moment.

heath.cummings: My opinion of Judge's floor is higher than yours. They're in an even better lineup than Martinez.

*reasonable floor.

chris.towers: You don't think .222 with 41 homers is Judge's floor?

heath.cummings: No, I don't think he's going to hit .222. And I think his (healthy) floor is 90+ runs and RBI.

chris.towers: I didn't ask if you think he's going to hit .222.

heath.cummings: .245 is a reasonable batting average floor for Judge (we are way off track Mr. Moderator).

scott.white: Does anyone else sense the tension here?

chris.towers: YOU'RE WAY OFF TRACK.

Anyways ... I think all three are pretty much the same player, I don't know how much sense it makes to have any one of them ranked any higher. There's varying levels of risk with all three (Judge's second half/strikeout rate/middling minor-league track record; Stanton and Martinez's injury histories)... So, I guess I'll just take Martinez at the late second-round value, thank you very much.

Any more thoughts? Any lingering free agents out there you still have some interest in whenever they sign?

heath.cummings: Give me Carlos Gonzalez as a DH in a good hitter's park, please.

scott.white: Does anybody care about Carlos Gonzalez anymore? We used to worry what would happen if he ever left Colorado. Now, stay, go  ... it doesn't matter.

chris.towers: Oh, I had forgotten about him.

heath.cummings: Do it, Orioles.

Or White Sox.

Or Blue Jays.

scott.white: Heath made reference to it already, but I think the Hunter Renfroe-Jose Pirela battle in San Diego -- a side effect of the Hosmer signing -- could be compelling in a low-end sort of way. Personally, I'm rooting for Pirela.

heath.cummings: Also, Corey Dickerson.

chris.towers: We didn't even talk about how weird everything the Rays have done yet. Souza's value: Down. Corey Dickerson's: Down (until he finds a new home). Mallex Smith: Up! Don't ignore Carlos Gomez in the later rounds!

scott.white: I have no idea what to do with Corey Dickerson. It's possible it's out of his hands and they find a trade partner before he clears, but if not ... I'm not sure he gets a full-time role.

chris.towers: Thing is... he's likely to have a better park wherever he ends up. I'll be buying if he ends up starting somewhere.

And with that lukewarm endorsement of Corey Dickerson, we draw the curtains. Thanks for the chat, fellas. See you next week!

Fantasy Writer

Though he can be found covering three different sports depending on the time of year, there is one unifying theme in how Chris Towers approaches sports; "Where's the evidence?" It doesn't matter how outlandish... Full Bio

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